Posts Tagged “truck availability”
“Name me a city or a state and I will tell you trucks have been tight,” states Bob Rose of the Allen Lund Company LLC.
Rose should know. He is the manager of the firm’s San Francisco office and has been with the transportation and logistics company 31 years. Based in LaCanada, CA, Allen Lund Company has 34 offices nationwide, working with 21,000 trucking companies, providing it with a keen pulse of truck availability.
The last three quarters of 2017 rates have been stronger, reflecting increased demand for equipment.
Allen Lund Company moves about 90,000 loads a year with a significant portion of this being perishables.
Rose doesn’t expect truck availability to improve any the rest of the year, and points out holidays such as Thanksgiving (November 23rd) always means increased demand for fresh fruits and vegetables and refrigerated trucks.
The ethnic population in the U.S. also is a factor with higher volume and demand for equipment to deliver product for their holiday observances.
“Not everyone can haul produce,” says Rose, in reference to the extra demands and knowledge required of drivers hauling perishables.
He also expresses concerns over the looming electronic logging device (ELD) requirement mandate, which the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will begin phasing in December 18th unless it is delayed, as many hope. Plans to start using out-of-service criteria connected with the ELD mandate begins April 1st.
While the large carriers and their trucking associations tend to support ELDs, owner operators and small fleets often view it as limiting their ability to provide superior service, increases their costs of operation, and being another rule limiting their freedom of choice as professional drivers.
“Not a lot of the large carriers are hauling produce,” observes Rose. “Most of it is transported by owner operators and small trucking companies.”
He believes the tight truck supplies are resulting primarily due to the industry being at or near full capacity.
“We talk a lot about truck shortages, but with ELDs, we will feel it. But no one yet knows how ELDs will be enforced,” Rose says.
As a result, he notes Allen Lund Company is looking for ways to reduce the costly delays too often found at loading and unloading docks. They also are seeking improved routes for trucking since customers are maintaining lower inventories and want faster deliveries.
“I want to figure out how to pay drivers more so they can truck less and still support their families,” Rose concludes.
In a turn around from a year ago Red River Valley potato grower-shippers in North Dakota and Minnesota anticipate plenty of potato loads for hauling this season. It would be a terrific improvement for both growers, shippers and truckers from a rain-soaked 2016 season.
Last year during the 2017 growing season, dry soil made growing and harvesting difficult although the abundant rainfall from 2016 had created good planting conditions. The result was a 30 percent drop in potato shipments.
A couple of timely downpours this past September helped the digging get started on time.
The Red River Valley potato harvest generally runs for about six weeks in September and October, with shipments typically lasting through spring.
The Red River Valley includes about 80,000 acres in North Dakota and 45,000 in Minnesota. Potato volume for the fresh market typically totals about 7 million hundredweight (cwt).
A significant change in the valley this season is formation of H & S FreshPak in Hoople, ND, a new company created when J.G. Hall & Sons of Hoople and O.C. Schulz & Sons Inc. of Crystal, ND, who purchased Northern Valley Growers of Hoople and changed the name to H & S.
Truck availability has been a concern in the valley this season, a situation that has a history. Due to the low population of North Dakota, getting loads into the valley is often a challenge. Other factors such as the recovery from hurricanes in Texas and Florida hasn’t helped the availability of trucks.
The valley has over 250 growers producing more than 40 million cwt. of potatoes annually, with about 17 percent of the product shipped to the fresh market. The region is the third largest potato growing area in the U.S.
Yellow variety potatoes continue to increase in popularity, mostly at the expense of Russets and whites, neither of which valley growers have produced in a number of years.
While U.S. red potato shipments increased about 14 percent between 2009 – 2015, white potato shipments plunged 43.3 percent.
The co-op Associated Potato Growers Inc. of Grand Forks, ND continues to be the valley’s largest potato shipper. Of the dozen wash plants in the valley, two of the other largest shippers are NoKota Packers, Inc. of Buxton, ND and J.G. Hall of Hoople.
Potato shipments from Grand Forks – grossing about $4800 to New York City.